Designers reveal the secrets to a low-maintenance home that virtually looks after itself

With just a few tweaks to your home's design, you can create spaces that don't require much in the way of maintenance, say these top designers

A living dining room in muted tones
(Image credit: Atelier Cho Thompson. Photo by Samara Vise)

As our lives get busier, the need for a home that is high on style, but low on upkeep is increasing. Thankfully significant innovations in this area are making this easier than ever.

Designers have taken on a new appreciation of how a home needs to be liveable and pragmatic, as well as beautiful. There's now a focus on spaces that aren't consumed by daily wear and tear, stains and dust, but stay looking their best with a little intervention. 

So, cast interior design trends that don't stand up to functional demands aside. Essentially, we’re now looking for decor to be low-maintenance to give us more time to spend on enjoying it, and less on sprucing it back up.

Here are four ideas for making your home easier to maintain. 

1. Design your home with durable materials 

The secret to a low-maintenance space is the culmination of elements that not only look good but are highly practical. 'A home can be made of shiny, plasticized objects and surfaces, but sterile, polished materials [that have been in vogue a long time] demand constant care and attention to maintain their beauty,’ says Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, founding partner at Norm Architects. Or in other words: collectively, we’re tired, and need materials that are inherently durable and require little upkeep. 

Take kitchen countertops for instance. Though beautiful, marble countertops have largely been displaced by modern composite alternatives. These styles, largely made from quartz, are stain-resistant where marble stains easily, and have heat resistance, where marble is prone to cracking under thermal shock. 

Durability isn't the only improvement. American brand Cupron has developed a surface embedded with copper ions that claim to stop pathogens from spreading, reducing the need for as-constant cleaning or use of strong chemical products. A quartz worktop, from the likes of Caesarstone, also stays perfect for generations to come, not requiring the sealing and maintenance of stone or wood. 

‘What’s more, this quartz surface worktop is durable, flexible, scratch-resistant, and beautifully sophisticated,' says Mor Krisher, Caesarstone’s Head of Design.

A kitchen with a white Caesarstone worktop

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

2. Choose smart, automated systems for your home's upkeep

Advances in smart tech are keeping our homes clean, too. Robot vacuums are hugely popular, but what about building one into your house? The emergence of central vacuuming systems has been game-changing – incorporated into the structure of the home and with access through ducts and pipes installed inside walls. 

British brand VacuSystems works by having a centrally located motor, which produces a vacuum capable of removing dust, dirt, metal, food, and plastics. The only external element, a discreet hose connected indoors can be easily hidden away – the collected dirt goes into an outdoor unit which is a removable bag. 

3. Opt for low-maintenance flooring 

You might have spotted a growing trend in cork flooring in homes, newly beloved for its sustainable credentials. But we think its rise is also in part to how low-maintenance it is. 'Designed to be extremely tough, its surface finish can protect the floor from the rigors of modern life,’ says James Scully, founder of Recork.

‘It doesn’t shed any microfibres, which means it is naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic and therefore doesn’t harbor dust,' says James Scully, founder of Recork. If you are, however, unsure of this flooring material, interior designer Ravi Vazirani suggests eschewing the classic wood floorboards and embracing stone or porcelain instead: 'Marble or tiles work well,’ he says. ‘They do not collect dust, ideal in a home that has pets and children.'

Cork flooring in open plan living room with view to outside

(Image credit: Urbane Flooring)

4. Choose textiles that don't collect dust and are easy to clean

Structural ideas aside, let’s take a moment to focus on interior decoration for modern living rooms. Linen and velvets are notorious with regards to their upkeep, especially if you need to dry clean them often. Thankfully the world of microfibre – a durable fabric, much like leather, ages better and looks smart – has moved on to feel as elegant as linen. Natuzzi’s Softech fabrics are completely stain-resistant while Love Your Home’s cream boucle can withstand even coffee. Washing it is as painless as a damp towel and a bit of blotting with soapy water. 10 points for convenience! 

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.